GIG HARBOR, Wash. — Gig Harbor senior Cole Rushforth has a 3.89 GPA, he's a stand-out athlete, he's the student body president, and he’s also a very big deal on social media.
Rushforth's a first-team all-league receiver and started as a kick returner and linebacker. This season he had nearly 600 receiving yards and eight touchdowns. Besides football, he also competes in track in the 100-meter, 200-meter, 4x100-meter relay and the triple jump.
Rushforth said he will play in college next year.
"I just love football,” Rushforth said. “I love the game, everything about it. I study it, watch it.”
Like most that play, Rushforth's taken his share of hits, but it doesn't come close to the ones he gets on TikTok. His TikTok account, @colewiththefacts, has more than 2.1 million followers.
"TikTok is a place where people can express themselves and reach millions and even billions of people if they do it well it enough," said Rushforth.
Like many of his generation, Rushforth grew up surrounded by social media.
"I saw people with millions of subscribers on YouTube posting videos that would just blow up and get millions and millions of views, and I would think that lifestyle looks so cool. How can someone do whatever they want and have fun?" said Rushforth.
Rushforth started doing his own YouTube videos but was pushed to try another platform.
"Right before COVID happened, I was in math class, and one of my friends made a TikTok video that got 15,000 views, and he bet me that I couldn't pass that over winter break," said Rushforth.
Rushforth lost the bet but enjoyed making the video, so he kept at it. Once COVID hit, Rushforth had plenty of free time.
"I took that opportunity to do what I had an interest in, and I started making videos," said Rushforth.
"I saw a style of video that was doing well was people narrating things and I was like, what could I narrate, and I've always liked history facts and stories, and I was like, that is something I like," said Rushforth.
And @colewiththefacts was born. His first TikTok post had 5 million views.
"It's kind of unreal to look at the screen and know that 5 million people saw that,” said Rushforth. “That's crazy.”
Rushforth posts videos on topics ranging from survival stories to rare animals, weird jobs, scary facts, celebrity facts to interesting tidbits about food.
"The way I describe my videos – they are educational, factional,” Rushforth said. “It's just a place people can go to pick up their phone after work or after school and get entertained by a 30-second video."
Rushforth first started posting his videos in the family TV room a year and a half ago. His videos have now been viewed over 140 million times.
"I thought it would be crazy to have 10,000 followers, and my friends said go for 100,000, and I said, ‘No way,’ and I had a couple videos do well, and I just never backed down and kept going," said Rushforth.
His videos aren't high budget, but this 18-year-old businessman is currently in the top 1% of all accounts on TikTok.